Roman NightsHighNote *****
Trumpeter and flügelhornist Tom Harrells third album with his working quintet – Wayne Escoffery (tenor), Danny Grissett (piano/Fender Rhodes), Ugonna Okegwo (bass) and Johnathan Blake (drums) - is probably the group’s best yet. Its character is determined as much by Harrell’s many-faceted compositions as the nature of an exceptional band, in which the contrasting playing of the lyrical Harrell and robust Escoffery is ideally framed by an outstanding rhythm section. Combining challenge with originality, the leader’s writing refreshes the parts other writers don’t reach, stimulating memorable performances on the lovely Harvest Song,a lesson in complexity a world removed from merely clever; the unusual, compelling Obsessionand Bird In Flight;and Roman Nights,a lyrical flügelhorn-piano duet. This must be one of the best groups in jazz right now.